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tor·​ment ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony
She wrung her hands piteously together, looking like a soul in torment.Lucy Maud Montgomery
: a source of vexation or pain
Love is a delight; but hate a torment.Herman Melville
… the twin torments of his probable manic depression and chronic stomach pains.Neal Karlen
: the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)


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tormented; tormenting; torments

transitive verb

: to cause severe usually persistent or recurrent distress of body or mind to
cattle tormented by flies
tormented by doubt
She liked me, but she laughed at me, and tormented me …Charles Dickens
tormented adjective
… Emily—who is easily one of the most tormented characters of the show … Rowan Born
The Witch makes the mundane sinister, from the tormented shapes of the corn husks in the field to the weird glow of pewter by candlelight. Katy Waldman
Choose the Right Synonym for torment

afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear.

afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress.

ills that afflict the elderly

try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control.

children often try their parents' patience

torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance.

a horse tormented by flies

torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering.

tortured by a sense of guilt

rack stresses straining or wrenching.

a body racked by pain

Examples of torment in a Sentence

Noun No one could understand his inner torment. After years of torment, she left her husband. The mosquitoes were a constant torment. Verb Not knowing where she was tormented him. he was tormented by nightmares about the accident
Recent Examples on the Web
Off his now iconic Blonde, the sparse song features some samples but is mostly held together by mournful guitar, giving space to the torment of a necessary but painful split. Juan Velasquez, Them, 10 July 2024 Across the country, pulmonologists, pediatricians, and other doctors are reporting more and more visits to their offices and to emergency rooms by more and more people—especially children—suffering from worse and worse asthma torment. Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, 25 June 2024
Uliana tries to outdo her big sister Ursula's villainy at every turn by tormenting those around her. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 11 July 2024 The story revolves around the reformed supervillain Gru, whose family welcomes a son who’s intent on tormenting his dad. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 1 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for torment 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'torment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French turment, torment, from Latin tormentum torture; akin to torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of torment was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near torment

Cite this Entry

“Torment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tor·​ment ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: extreme pain or distress of body or mind
: a cause of suffering in mind or body


2 of 2 verb
tor·​ment tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: to cause severe suffering of body or mind to
: to cause worry, distress, or trouble to : harass

More from Merriam-Webster on torment

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